Sport

Limerick destroy Kilkenny to land Division One title

Limerick’s Richie English steals a march on Kilkenny’s Gearóid Dunne during the Allianz Hurling League Division One final at Páirc Ui Chaoimh             Picture by Sportsfile
Limerick’s Richie English steals a march on Kilkenny’s Gearóid Dunne during the Allianz Hurling League Division One final at Páirc Ui Chaoimh Picture by Sportsfile Limerick’s Richie English steals a march on Kilkenny’s Gearóid Dunne during the Allianz Hurling League Division One final at Páirc Ui Chaoimh Picture by Sportsfile

Allianz Hurling League Division One final

Kilkenny 0-15 Limerick 2-20

JOHN Kiely described Limerick’s performance as “Jekyll and Hyde-ish” after an 11-point League final victory which could have been so much more.

A few factors will strike fear into their old rivals. First, the fact that Limerick converted only half of their shots – they had 15 wides in the second half alone, 20 in total – and still were the better team than Kilkenny by a double-digit margin.

Moreover, they still have captain Declan Hannon (flu), Kyle Hayes (minor strain), and William O’Donoghue (suspended) to be added into the battle for places come Championship, although Mike Casey exited after experiencing dizziness from a bang to the head.

“There was good parts and there was some terrible parts. It’s a mixed bag,” said Kiely.

“The wides were disappointing, absolutely. While we’re happy to have created those scoring chances, we need to be taking more of them.

“I’d say our shooting efficiency is the lowest that it’s been all year in that performance but, at the same time, we’re very happy to be League champions.”

Kilkenny, it should be noted, weren’t at full strength either. Adrian Mullen marked his comeback with three points, but they left TJ Reid on the bench, the talisman having just returned to training this week. Richie Hogan, meanwhile, faces at least a five-week lay-off after breaking a bone in his wrist against Cork.

For Derek Lyng, in his first final as Kilkenny manager, it was a “sobering experience”.

Limerick’s celebrations of a 14th League title were modest too, with a first-round clash against Waterford just two weeks down the line entering what Kiely described as the “most competitive” Munster Championship in three or four years.

“The boys will be feet up now, having a cup of tea this evening,” he said after watching Cian Lynch lift the trophy in front of 17,243 fans at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“Listen, the window is very short. As much as you’d like to give them a bit of freedom, they’ve had their chances over the last number 


of months. It’s a case of go home and relax now, and get ready for Tuesday night.”

What was most pleasing for Kiely was the two goals stitched by Barry Nash and Aaron Gillane in either half, the second time this season Limerick have doubled up. They could’ve had at least two more.

Gillane showed plenty of signs of recovering his Championship sharpness as he created the first and then dispatched a sweet volleyed finish to add the cherry on top. 

So too did Séamus Flanagan, who was involved in both goals and scored three points of his own.

“It’s encouraging to see the boys going for it,” said Kiely. 

“Hopefully as we go along the cohesion of that will become slicker and hopefully we’ll be able to create a few more.”

Their defence totally suffocated the Kilkenny attack, restricting them to five second-half points and 


none between the 52nd and 72nd minutes.

“If you ask me where I wanted to be right now, at this stage of the season, we’re there. The next question is, where do we want to be in two weeks’ time?” Kiely added.

“We’re going to have to be far more accurate, have far more energy. That’s the challenge now for the boys to answer.”

Lyng said Kilkenny will have to “strip everything back” as they turn around for a Leinster Championship campaign.

“We made too many mistakes,” said Lyng. 

“Our handling wasn’t good at times. We were under pressure coming out with the ball and, when you’re hesitant coming out against a team like Limerick, they’ll bury you and that’s what happened.”